Newsletter February 2015
This year’s summer production will be the UK modern-times première of Salieri’s La grotta di Trofonio, one of the runaway successes of its day. The librettist Casti claimed he wrote it “to mock the devil, and the magical exorcisms practised by sorcerers and charlatans”; in a light-hearted but thought-provoking tale, the idealised romances of two contrasted couples are tested and confused through the mischievous magic of a mysterious hermit and his gloomy cavern.
With its rich orchestration and glorious ensembles of the constantly engaging music, it was imitated by Mozart in Così fan tutte and Don Giovanni. The cast features Bampton favourites Aoife O’Sullivan, Anna Starushkevych and Nicholas Merryweather, two exciting new singers, Christopher Turner and Matthew Stiff, and the much-awaited return of James Harrison. Paul Wingfield, recently graduated from the Jette Parker Young Artists’ programme at the Royal Opera House, conducts, whilst artistic director Jeremy Gray directs. As always, the production will be sung in English.
Performances are on 17 and 18 July at Bampton Deanery, 31 August at Westonbirt and 15 September at St John’s, Smith Square. Booking is now open: bamptonopera.org/booking.htm or 01993 851142
Looking further ahead to the autumn, we are planning performances of Haydn’s The Apothecary. Two of these will, aptly, be in the Apothecaries’ Hall, as part of the Worshipful Company's anniversary celebrations; a third will be on 19 September at David Gladstone’s lovely concert series Music at Wotton (Buckinghamshire) and details will be posted nearer the time. It’s another gem of a comedy concerning an apothecary, his daughter, his apprentice, and a rich young man around town. Mayhem and a happy ending are guaranteed!
Our main event of the autumn is the return of the Young Singers’ Competition. Inaugurated in 2013, it is a biennial event. The final takes place in Oxford’s Holywell Music Room on Saturday 14 November and there is a gala dinner in support of it in London on 27 March. We were thrilled that last year’s winners, Anna Starushkevych and Rosalind Coad, were both able to perform with us over the last season, to critical acclaim - Anna in our 2014 double-bill and Rosalind in concert last November.
Since our September newsletter we have been predictably busy, with a concert performance of Maurice Greene’s Jephtha, a significant piece in the development of the English oratorio, in Oxford, a Young Singers’ Competition prizewinners’ recital in London and a concert of baroque Christmas music in Bampton in December.
It was very sad to learn of the recent death of Lady Mackerras, the widow of another of our Patrons, Sir Charles. The family has been warmly supportive of us over the years and we send our condolences.
Sir Curtis Price, the Warden of New College, Oxford, has honoured us by accepting an invitation to become a Patron. He was previously Principal of the RAM and a Professor of Music at London University. He is a Trustee of Musica Britannica and the Handel House Museum and was appointed KBE for services to music.
We are holding a gala dinner on 27 March, to raise money for this year’s Young Singers’ Competition. We are thrilled that the Dean of Westminster has allowed us to hold it at College Hall, the 14th-century monks refectory at Westminster Abbey, and it will be worth going to for this reason alone!
On a rather different theme, the indefatigable Pauline Smith, known to many for her work on Front of House and costumes, has written To Kill a Songbird, an operatically-themed murder mystery play that we are putting on in Bampton Village Hall, in conjunction with Bampton Library to raise funds for both organisations. Dates are 17 and 18 April.
For further details of both events, and how to book, please visit the ‘What’s on’ page of our website.
We have a growing group of Friends of Bampton Classical Opera - through membership you can not only support our work but also meet like-minded people at convivial events, including post-performance events and our annual Friends reception. There are several tiers of membership, each with associated benefits, but every single membership makes a difference. Please do consider joining us!
If you would like to support us without becoming a Friend, you can do this in a number of ways:
• Make a donation – see the ‘support us’ page of our website
• Company support – become a Corporate Friend
• Advertise your business in our programme
• Help in kind – accommodate a singer, help with cast catering or with event organisation
• Spread the word!